Tag Archives: conference

Five Years at the SCGS Jamboree

This was my fifth year attending the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree, which took place 9–11 June in Burbank, California. It was my fourth year hosting a meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network, and my first year as a speaker.

“The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society” with Eric Wells, Deborah Sweeney, Lisa Medina, Melanie Frick, Randy Whited, and Paul Woodbury. Photograph courtesy of Victoria Wells.

On Saturday, 10 June, I moderated a panel discussion, “The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society,” with a stellar team of panelists: Lisa Medina, Deborah Sweeney, Eric Wells, Randy Whited, and Paul Woodbury. One hour flew by as we discussed how genealogy societies can welcome young genealogists, how societies can avoid making them feel out of place or undervalued, and what makes a young genealogist want to engage with a society. I was glad to see many society leaders in attendance, and there were a number of questions and comments from the audience which made for an interesting discussion.

“The Next Generation: Young Genealogists and Your Society.” Photograph courtesy of Victoria Wells.

Following the panel was the fifth annual meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network, which I co-hosted with Eric Wells. We had a good turnout including several familiar as well as new faces! I was glad to have a chance to meet the recipient of the 2017 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, Mindy Jacox.

2017 NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree.

This was also my briefest year at Jamboree due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict. I only managed a quick peek at the exhibit hall and a few hellos with friends, and, unfortunately, was unable to stay for any other sessions. However, even in the short time I was there, I could tell that the conference organizers put on another fun and high-quality event. There were many sessions I would have loved to have seen, from DNA analysis to cluster research to dating fashion in old photographs. Next year!

2016 SCGS Jamboree and a Special Award

This was my fourth year at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in nearby Burbank, California, and a memorable one at that. I was honored to be awarded the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant, with many, many thanks to Denise Levenick (The Family Curator), a staunch supporter of young genealogists. In previous years, the grant has been awarded to a student, a profile I no longer match. However, this year, it was decided to award it to any active young genealogist, and I couldn’t have been more surprised and delighted when I received the call informing me that I would be the recipient. The Southern California Genealogical Society also provided a complimentary conference registration.

FullSizeRender (10)

Sunday Scholarship Breakfast, 2016 SCGS Jamboree: Paul Woodbury (Legacy Tree), Denise Levenick, Melanie Frick, and Jessica Taylor (Legacy Tree)

The award was presented at the Sunday Scholarship Breakfast, sponsored by Legacy Tree Genealogists and featuring speaker Paul Woodbury on the topic, “Preparing Good Ground: Fostering Genealogical Interest for Coming Generations.” I think everyone came away with chills after hearing about Paul’s experience visiting the abandoned home of a French ancestor that featured his family history carved into its stone walls. (This also happened to be my husband’s first genealogical event, and it made a good impression!) The Family Curator’s press release is available here.

The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant includes a cash award which I look forward to putting towards, in part, the proper archival preservation of my own family archive, hopefully bringing greater organization (and peace of mind!) to my ever-growing collection of old photographs and documents. Stay tuned!

I was glad to attend a number of excellent sessions at this year’s Jamboree, including speakers Tom Jones and Elissa Scalise Powell on methodology and Michael Lacopo on German genealogy. I can hardly wait to dive into Archion.de, a new online database of German records. Other standout sessions included topics ranging from adoption to migration to pre-1850 census records, and I especially enjoyed Jane Neff Rollins’ “Sensitive Subjects in Genealogy: What to Conceal, What to Reveal.” Selected sessions from Jamboree can be viewed for free until July 5.

As always, Jamboree is a social as well as educational event, and it was nice to catch up with geneafriends, fellow geneabloggers, and former classmates from the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I also hosted a meetup for the NextGen Genealogy Network and had a great time sharing what’s new with our organization—including a community directory that will allow young genealogists to connect with their peers. I’ve loved being a part of NGGN as it’s grown and evolved over the past several years and always enjoy getting a good group together to chat at Jamboree. Until next year!

2015 SCGS Jamboree

It seems there has hardly been a chance to catch my breath since I was in Missouri for the NGS Family History Conference last month – and I suppose with good reason. My husband and I managed to fit a road trip with visits to ten states in ten days (not to mention three national parks in twenty-four hours) in between! This past weekend, then, only added to the blur as it was time to attend my second conference of year: the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree in nearby Burbank, California.

There were several memorable sessions and I made a point to Tweet some of the many highlights. I started off learning how to create a “Genealogy Disaster Plan” with Denise Levenick and picked up some great tips about how to handle an abundance of genealogy materials, including a recommendation for a fireproof safe for irreplaceable items and guidelines for backing up digital files. Levenick even shared a “Genealogy Preparedness” checklist, available for download at The Family Curator. I also enjoyed a case study on tracing common surnames (the “Jones Jinx”) from Tom Jones, insight into the records of poor ancestors from Paula Stuart-Warren, thoughts on immersion genealogy and family history travel from Lisa Alzo, and songs and stories of farming ancestors from Jean Wilcox Hibben.

Another informative session was “Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation” led by Blaine Bettinger and Paul Woodbury. As a big fan of genetic genealogy (my grandparents have submitted to multiple DNA tests for me at this point!), I agreed with their suggestions that DNA offers a tangible opportunity for education and engagement among youth within the realms of both genetics and family history. What was especially interesting to me was a discussion of the correlation between an interest in genealogy and the number of generations of displacement from one’s cultural roots.

NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup, 2015 SCGS Jamboree

Of course, the Jamboree provided a great opportunity to socialize with several friends and fellow genealogy bloggers. This included Deborah Sweeney, who kindly provided me with a copy of her beautiful new book about the lives of her grandparents during World War II, Dear Mother, Love Daddy. I also hosted an informal meetup of the NextGen Genealogy Network and was glad to see nearly twenty attendees stop by our table, whether fellow “young genealogists” or our staunch supporters. It was a great way to conclude my last day in Burbank, as I chose to attend the conference virtually on Sunday. After so much of the past month spent away from home, it was nice to be able to catch up some things around the house while listening in on the free live stream of selected sessions – including one by sixteen-year-old genealogist Matthew Hovorka! The next generation of genealogy is here indeed.

Read about the 2014 SCGS Jamboree here.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

2015 NGS Family History Conference

Last week was spent at the National Genealogical Society’s 2015 Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri. This was my third NGS conference in as many years, and as always, it was a fantastic time of education, inspiration, and connecting with colleagues and friends.

IMG_0792Despite missing the first morning and final afternoon of the conference, I managed to pack in fourteen sessions in addition to the NGS luncheon and a lovely breakfast hosted by Findmypast. (No, I didn’t get much sleep.) From legal lingo with Judy Russell to tracing kinships through indirect evidence with Elizabeth Shown Mills, I came away with plenty of new ideas for tracking down some of my more elusive ancestors. Other sessions ranged from Federal Military Pensions to Scandinavians in the Midwest, and I also enjoyed learning about Illinois resources, pre-statehood and beyond, as a number of my ancestors entered Illinois Territory more than two hundred years ago.

One standout session was Baerbel Johnson’s “So You Think You Want to Get Married: German Marriage Records, Laws, and Customs.” Let’s just say that all of the obstacles in the way of marriage during different points in German history – including age restrictions (brides had to be twenty-two and grooms had to be twenty-five!), parental permission, proof of means of support, and taxes galore – go a long way in explaining just why so many German children may have been born out of wedlock.

My favorite discovery from a session? That would have to be HistoryGeo.com, a resource that maps “First Landowners” and can pinpoint the exact site of your ancestor’s land on Google Maps in just a few clicks. This eliminates the need to painstakingly cross-reference historic plat maps with modern road maps as I did last summer when identifying the location of the homestead of one of my ancestors. If you have any first landowners in your family tree, this is a resource you won’t want to miss.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At this year’s conference, I especially enjoyed getting to spend time with two fellow members of the Leadership Team of the NextGen Genealogy Network. We hosted an informal meetup event for other young genealogists in their twenties, thirties, and forties – and those who lend their support, including a friend of mine from graduate school. A handful of us stuck around to swap our best family stories into the night, and from black sheep to DNA discoveries, we covered it all. It was the perfect way to pause and unwind halfway into the conference!

All in all, I was impressed with the stellar organization of this year’s conference by the National Genealogical Society, the St. Louis Genealogical Society, and conference center staff, as well as the tireless speakers, volunteers, and exhibit hall vendors. The conference center was a short walk from my hotel, and there was a Cracker Barrel in between – what more could one want? Oh, food trucks, of course. Lots of fun details of the conference were captured on Twitter under #NGS2015GEN.

I didn’t have the chance on this trip to explore what historic St. Charles and St. Louis have to offer, but I will definitely need to return at some point for a research venture – after all, my southern Illinois ancestors settled just a couple of hours away. Now I know how to find their land!

Read about the 2014 NGS Family History Conference (Richmond) here.
Read Ten Tips for NGS Family History Conference Attendees here.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

2014 SCGS Jamboree

Just one month after the 2014 NGS Family History Conference began, it was time for the 2014 SCGS Jamboree. The many volunteers at the Southern California Genealogical Society work hard to host the Jamboree year after year in nearby Burbank, and the fruits of their labors are apparent. There was an excellent lineup of speakers, a jam-packed exhibition hall, and, from what I could tell, enthusiastic attendance. This was my second year attending, and I definitely stayed busy.

I filled pages of notes during lectures on the records of widows and orphans and the history of American divorce by Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, and came away with plenty of inspiration for preserving some tricky rolled family photographs after a lecture by Denise Levenick, The Family Curator. I caught several appearances by Joshua Taylor, and whether speaking about advanced online research techniques or how to engage the next generation of genealogists, he knows how to reach his audience. In addition, I attended the annual blogger summit, which is precisely what gave me the final burst of inspiration that I needed last year in order to start blogging, once and for all. I donned the blogger beads worn by the other Geneabloggers and joined in the annual group photo, which you can see here.

IMG_3344Of course, it wouldn’t be a conference without its fair share of socialization – and social media. I fed off the energy of Jen Baldwin, Twitter extraordinaire, to up my number of Tweets per session, and also caught up with fellow NextGen Genealogy Network board members, the aforementioned Josh and Jen, and a wonderful group of supporters at our evening meetup. Last but certainly not least, throughout the conference, I met several of my favorite bloggers face-to-face for the first time. If you’re thinking about attending next year, the SCGS Jamboree is a great way to spend a weekend!

2014 NGS Family History Conference

IMG_3043My lack of recent updates can be explained by the fact that the 2014 NGS Family History Conference was held last week in Richmond, Virginia. This was my second time attending a conference sponsored by the National Genealogical Society, and it was just as much fun as the first! I stayed at the historic Linden Row Inn in downtown Richmond, within walking distance of the conference center, the Library of Virginia, and the Richmond Public Library, and I made it to more than a dozen lectures, spent some quality time in the exhibit hall, attended a celebration of fifty years of genealogical credentialing, and met with old friends and new. I even Tweeted a bit!

IMG_3031Some highlights included lectures by Elizabeth Shown Mills, who always provides inspiration for creative ways to look at records in order to break through perceived “brick walls,” and Tom Jones, who had everyone in the audience laughing at his anecdote about tracking down county court records in a small Midwestern town. I also attended several helpful sessions on specific research topics, including tax records, slave claims, and German genealogy. Warren Bittner did the impossible by making the Meyers Gazetteer seem (almost) easy to decipher, which instigated a mad dash to the exhibit hall to purchase the guidebook that he recommended. The exhibit hall is also where I was able to peruse a sample application portfolio to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, following a helpful lecture about the intensive, but worthwhile, application process.

IMG_3027I made sure to catch a lecture by Maureen Taylor, “The Photo Detective.” Anyone who follows my blog will know how much I love analyzing antique photographs, so it was interesting to hear her speak about “Photo Identification 101” and to see some of the more outlandish fashions of the mid-nineteenth century. Maureen authored the book The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation, and she and contributor David Allen Lambert were kind enough to autograph my copy.

NGGN_Richmond_2014Good times were also had with the other conference attendees, whether making new friends at mealtimes and in the lecture halls, catching up with a former grad school classmate, or meeting with several of my fellow board members and supporters of the NextGen Genealogy Network. All in all, it was a jam-packed week of genealogy fun, learning, and connecting – well worth the jet lag!

2014 APG Professional Management Conference

Greetings from snowy Salt Lake City! I’ve had an exciting few days here at the Family History Library and the APG Professional Management Conference, hosted by the Association of Professional Genealogists.

IMG_1980The conference opened yesterday after lunch with an introduction from Kimberly Powell, APG President, and a lecture from D. Joshua Taylor, who recently appeared in Genealogy Roadshow, “New Industries, New Worlds: Working for Entertainment and Corporate Clients.” As an audience member pointed out, much of his advice would also be applicable to everyday client research. For the remainder of the afternoon, I enjoyed Harold Henderson’s workshop, “The Story of Jethro’s Story: The Making of a NGSQ Article.” Writing for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly is definitely one of my long-term goals, and it was extremely helpful to have the process of crafting a research article broken down in a frank discussion.

Today, I was able to fit in a few more worthwhile lectures. Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, opened with “‘Good Name in Man or Woman’ – Protecting a Professional Reputation.” Judy is a delightful speaker and she raised valid points for genealogy business owners. I also knew that I would learn a lot from CeCe Moore at “Advanced DNA for Professionals – How Professionals Conduct a DNA Study,” and I certainly did. The number of DNA tests I would like family members to take is always growing! I rounded out the day with “The Pursuit from Genealogy Hobbyist to Professional,” by Claire V. Brisson-Banks, a thoughtful lecture on “Discovering and Communicating Your Unique Value: Personal Branding for Professional Genealogists” by Melissa A. Johnson, and “Gaining Recognition in the Genealogical Community: Climbing the Professional Ladder” by Jean Wilcox Hibben.

One of the greatest benefits of this conference was the opportunity to meet so many of the genealogists who inspire me in person! Both the dessert reception on Friday night and the Saturday luncheon were lots of fun, and it was convenient having all of the conference events take place at the hotel. (The Family History Library, by the way, was only a five minute walk away – the location couldn’t have been better!)

Would I recommend the APG Professional Management Conference? Absolutely! It’s smaller than other conferences I’ve attended, which makes networking and quality discussion come easily, and the lecture topics are highly relevant to genealogy professionals. I hope to return next year!

Ten Tips for NGS Family History Conference Attendees

Registration has opened for the NGS 2014 Family History Conference, 7-10 May 2014 in Richmond, Virginia! NGS 2013 in Las Vegas was my first conference, and I can’t wait for round two of four days of genealogical bliss. As a bonus, although I spent nearly three years living in Virginia, I never made it to Richmond. Are you going?

The National Genealogical Society offers a list of very helpful Tips for First Time Conference Attendees. I recommend that any attendee look them over – there are great reminders even for those who have attended a conference before. After NGS 2013, however, I came up with a few practical tips of my own:

Ten Tips for NGS Family History Conference Attendees

1. Be prepared! Before taking off, review the conference schedule and download the NGS app to your smartphone to keep you organized. Make note of which lectures you want most to attend, and think seriously about what you want to learn. Whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced professional, there are lecture topics and tracks geared towards you. A plan of action is important when preparing to tackle several full days of lectures and activities, including luncheons, evening programs, and other special events – but be willing to be flexible, too. Discovering a new favorite speaker may sway you into attending a lecture that you had previously ruled out, or a new friend might invite you along to a networking event that you hadn’t heard about.

2. Broaden your horizons! A lecture might catch your eye if it covers a specific topic in genealogy that you love and have read everything about – but realize that if that’s the case, you might not learn much new in a lecture geared towards beginners in that subject area. If you take a look at the syllabus, you might find that you can get the gist of a lecture from the summary provided there, and decide, in its place, to attend a lecture about something completely new to you. I almost missed what ended up being one of my favorite lectures on a topic that I knew nothing about to attend a lecture on a topic that I already knew well.

3. Check out the Exhibit Hall! Plan on spending some quality time here, even if that means skipping out on a lecture at some point during the course of the conference. Right between lectures, the Exhibit Hall can be packed, so I found it worthwhile to go at an off time, particularly when I wanted to buy mass quantities of books and peruse the binders of application materials at the booth for the Board for the Certification of Genealogists. (If you’ve ever so much as thought about certification, do this!)

IMG_03314. Get colorful! Before attending NGS 2013, I had not been aware that ribbons that attached to one’s name tag even existed. Well, as it turns out, they do, and they’re popular at genealogy conferences. As you explore the Exhibit Hall, you will have the opportunity to collect ribbons from genealogical organizations that you support. Some people are selective with their ribbons, while others make a point to collect as many as possible. However you go about it, be sure to add some color to your name tag!

5. Dress to impress! Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that the term “business casual” can be vague, and I like specifics. At NGS 2013, most attendees wore trousers or slacks with a nice shirt or blouse, though by all means, one should wear whatever makes him or her feel the most comfortable and confident. On the final day of the conference, many attendees dressed more casually, particularly if they were leaving directly for a flight home.

6. Layer! I appreciate air-conditioning, but it can be unpredictable in large conference facilities. There were a couple of occasions last year when I would have turned into an icicle if I hadn’t brought along my trusty cardigan. NGS already offers this advice, but I’ll say it again – a sweater or light jacket is a necessity!

7. Stay hydrated! At NGS 2013, there were water stations at the back of every lecture hall. I don’t know if this will be the case every year, but I appreciated being able to fill my own water bottle before lectures. Hydration will be just important at future conferences as it was in the Nevada desert, so pack a water bottle and plan on using it.

8. Bring snacks! For those times when you’re too exhausted (in a good way, of course) to seek out lunch or dinner, or when you don’t have enough of an appetite to warrant purchasing a big meal, bring along some snacks. I made a few meals of peanut butter, crackers, and fruit, which really wasn’t as tragic as it sounds. If your room comes with a refrigerator or microwave, you’ll have even more options for low-key, low-cost meals.

9. Get connected! Although some may prefer to rely on a smartphone for Internet access during the conference, I would recommend bringing your tablet or laptop as well. I didn’t carry my laptop to the lectures with me (although you should have something to take notes), but I found that I was eager to put my new skills to use immediately (!) and liked being able to access my files easily once I was back in my room. Be aware of Internet options at your hotel – in 2013, NGS provided a hotspot for conference attendees as the attached hotel did not provide complimentary Internet access.

10. Talk to your neighbor!  In my experience, the vast majority of conference attendees are as friendly as can be and are very open to chatting with their neighbors in the moments before a lecture begins. The very least anyone should do is to smile and say hello. You all have something in common, and if there’s one thing that genealogists love to talk about, it’s genealogy!

What are your tips for NGS Family History Conference attendees?